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Paul McGinley kept alive his hopes of ending a seven-year drought at the BMW International Open in windy Cologne on Friday.
The 45-year-old Dubliner joined England's Chris Wood in the early clubhouse lead on nine under par after both added rounds of 70 to their opening 65s.
"It was much tougher - a real good test of golf," said former Ryder Cup hero McGinley, frontrunner to lead Europe at Gleneagles in two years' time.
"You had to work the ball and it's very important to keep it on the fairways."
He had an eagle on his card for the second day running, making a 20-foot putt at the long third before finding the target as well with a 20-foot birdie attempt three holes later.
Wood is still chasing his first European Tour victory four years after finishing fifth in The Open as an amateur and then coming third a year later at Turnberry.
Paraguay's Fabrizio Zanotti and Australian Marcus Fraser were the overnight leaders on eight under. Fraser was among the later starters, but Zanotti's 71 made it a three-way tie at the top.
Another English player, Matthew Nixon, shot 66 to reach seven under, while there were 67s from Sergio Garcia, 54-year-old Bernhard Langer and Norfolk's Andrew Marshall, who won himself a BMW car with a hole-in-one at the 215-yard 17th.
He and Garcia both stood six under at halfway, while Langer, playing the one German event on the circuit that he has never won, was one further behind.
The double Masters champion gave himself the chance to be even better placed after five birdies in six holes early on.
"It reminded me of the young days," said Langer, whose daughter Christina is his caddie for the week. "It was great golf. I had some opportunities coming home, but missed some putts that were makeable.
"I don't see myself as one of the favourites. It's just fun to be here for the weekend."
Paul Casey's latest comeback from injury resulted in another missed cut. The former world number three, his season disrupted by dislocating his shoulder snowboarding on Christmas Eve, had rounds of 76 and 74 to crash out on six over.
The cut was likely to be either one or two under and that meant local favourite Martin Kaymer had work to do when he resumed one under.